It was in mid-December 2014, that my wife found out she was in danger of losing one of her jobs, and our primary source of income.
A few months before we got the news, we had moved into our first home, and leased a new car, so you can imagine our devastation at the thought of living without the income that made all of these things possible.
Being the overly paranoid, compulsive planner that I am, I immediately began browsing the Internet for available jobs in our area, thought of selling the stockpile of makeup I had recently acquired, and even considered morphing into a superhero for the spare change of tourists on Hollywood Boulevard.
And while all of these ideas were totally worthwhile, (especially the last, amirite?) I took to the last possible solution I could come up with – getting a roommate.
Now, before I go any further, I’d like to point out that my wife and I aren’t really “roommate material.” We aren’t too keen on sharing, we don’t really enjoy having company, and we both get increasingly uncomfortable at the sight of messes and/or the sound of very loud noises. Yes, we are the 30-going-on-60-year-old couple that likes to bask in solitude while watching Netflix and drowning our days in pints of ice cream.
So, as you can probably tell, the idea of having another person living in our house was terrifying to say the least. But due to our circumstances, we opened our minds, and our three-bedroom home, to not one roommate, but five.
Yes, you read me correctly, I said five roommates, plus my wife and I, in our small, three-bedroom house. But when I say roommates, what I really mean is one adult woman, two young children, a large, incredibly hairy feline, and a hyperactive, socially inadequate canine. Did I mention that we have four dogs of our own as well? Yeah, that three-month situation took the phrase “full house” on a totally different level.
OK, now back to basics.
At the time of our sudden loss of income, we didn’t have any potential roommates in mind. But then my wife’s ex co-worker mentioned that she and her two children and two animals would need a place to stay come January.
Since my wife had previously worked with her, we felt comfortable with the idea of sharing our house for a year, until both she, and we, could get caught up financially.
In the weeks leading up to her move-in date, the potential roommate and I discussed a few pet peeves we had, some rules of the house, the technicalities of payments and so forth.
We agreed that passive aggressive behavior was unacceptable in a roommate situation, that coasters should be used on my newly purchased coffee table, and that because she had children, random visitors wouldn’t be welcome in the house on both of our parts.
I also agreed to babysit while she worked, to both make a bit of pocket money for myself, as well as helping her build financial stability. We seemed to have an understanding, so we proceeded to draw up a rental lease for one year, and my wife and I spent the last few weeks in our home alone before all hell broke loose.
Within the first week our five new roommates were here, my wife and I knew we had made a horrible mistake. In less than seven days, our house, and our lives, were quite literally turned upside down.
Our guest room became a bottomless pit of cat litter, trash, toys, and food wrappings. Every time we passed by the room, it looked as if a tsunami had hit and the only survivors were the five inhabitants of that room.
My wife and I came together in disbelief, but decided to write it off as an adjustment period, and did so with hopes that things would eventually get better. I mean, they had to, right? They couldn’t possibly get any worse, right?
As the weeks passed, things got much, much worse! In fact, things got so bad that my wife and I spent the majority of the time in our room, because we were too uncomfortable to relax in our own house! The situation with her room didn’t change at all, in fact, it just got worse as time passed.
We mentioned that we didn’t eat in the bedrooms out of fear of cockroaches and mice, yet every time we passed her room, there were pizza boxes, chip bags, and cups filled to the brim with sour liquids.
When attempting to address the issue, our new roommate insisted that she didn’t know we didn’t like that, and that she would be having the kids eat in the kitchen instead. No harm, no foul, we thought, and at least she mentioned she’d be changing her current behavior.
After that talk, she did stop eating in her room… for awhile. But at that point, the food in her room was the least of our worries. As I had mentioned before, I agreed to babysit for her while she was working, but that good deed turned sour rather quickly, after I realized she wasn’t always working when she said she was.
Instead, she’d be elsewhere, pursuing other things while I was at home being a built-in nanny for cents on the dollar. Because I had developed a bit of a relationship with the children, I tried not to let this bother me, and I eventually let it go, accepting it as something that was just bound to happen from time to time.
I figured this was all part of the adjustment period and that things would all be sorted out soon enough, because after all, she assured me that they would.
Not only was her room a continuous mess, filled with half-eaten sandwiches and taffy-coated floors, and not only was she lying about where she would go during the day, but she also began giving our address to complete strangers she was meeting online! Within the first month she was staying with us, she had nearly eight dates with eight different men.
Now, before you react, please know that her casual life has no bearing on her credibility with me. I couldn’t care less how many people she dated, nor how often she dated them, but what I did care about is the vast amount of strangers knocking on my front door without notice. Call me paranoid, but anything could happen, and I really didn’t want to take that chance. So because of this, a new rule was implemented: No giving strangers on dating sites our address! It seems simple enough, right?
Sooner or later she ended up getting a boyfriend, and stopped having strangers come to the house. Things started improving with the children, and there were fewer and fewer messes that we had to walk by while trying to go to our bedroom.
My faith in the situation was renewed. That is, until her dog broke the bedroom door, dug up our backyard and newly planted trees, and destroyed our neighbors' fence! At this point, things were getting to be unbearable.
We talked to her about it, and she decided to send the dog to live with her ex-boyfriend, which made things a bit easier on us for the moment. That is, until she began telling the wildest stories my ears have ever heard.
One time, I overheard her talking on the phone about how her roommates (us) had to save her from a violent ex that came to the house, which never happened. At that moment, I knew that the person my wife had once worked with was nowhere to be found, and that the façade she had put on in front of both of us had dwindled down to nothing. We just couldn’t wait for her lease to be up so we could get our house back.
Our desire for her to leave only increased as time went on, and she saved us the drama of having to evict her when she decided to move to another state. While it seems as though we should’ve been pleased at her departure, it was unexpected, like our lack of income, so we were in the same position as before, only this time, we were also stuck with a ton of damages to fix.
Rather than admitting she was moving, she said she was “visiting” and would be back within a month, but she cleared out nearly all of her belongings, and insisted we sell off the rest if she didn’t come back. She agreed to pay the early termination fees, but in payments, and to this day we have only received $300.00 of the large balance she owes us. To be honest, I highly doubt we’ll be seeing anything more from her.
As I write this, it has been nearly three months since she has left our house, and while we are financially tight at the moment, and it seems as though we will continue to be for some time, anything is better than being in our previous situation.
Not only have we lost a roommate, but my wife has also lost someone she considered to be a friend. But I guess its true when they say, “With friends like that, who needs enemies?” Yeah, I’d say we are truly better off without her.